Cybersecurity is one of the most attractive, lucrative, rewarding careers. That’s because the topic in business and the jobs in cybersecurity are white-hot right now. As more and more business transactions make the jump from the real world to the virtual world, the efforts of cybercriminals to commit digital fraud are also increasing.
This makes the field of cybersecurity more relevant than ever. You’ve probably noticed it’s nearly impossible to read, hear or listen to the news and social media feeds without learning of a new cyber threat, computer attack, or data breach.
A recent U.S. News & World Report look at online cybersecurity bachelor’s degrees stated that almost half of U.S. adults had personal information exposed by hackers. It’s a big—and growing—problem and concern. From local nonprofits to small firms, to multinational companies, no business, organization, or individual is immune.
And the antidote requires more than just dealing with the aftermath. It requires detecting and preventing hacks, hazards, and attacks in the first place. With so many opportunities, many individuals are asking themselves, “Is cybersecurity right for me?” Only you will know for sure, but here is some more information to help you make up your mind.
What is the importance of cybersecurity?
It’s no secret information security is growing in importance. Living in the age of big data means that every organization, big or small, must embrace the interconnection that allows seamless communication and collaboration in infinite ways. Data brings a wealth of information and insight, but it can also be detrimental if it falls into the wrong hands.
With massive information traveling online and the increasing rate of cyber terrorism, it’s important to defend and protect information assets.
It seems you can’t go a week without seeing a new headline about the latest breach or cybersecurity mishap we’ve also seen entire companies, businesses, politicians, banks, and hospitals disrupted by ransomware attacks and healthcare companies facing a glut of threats as hackers seek out sensitive patient information.
This constant barrage of threats affects businesses and organizations that play an important role in nearly every aspect of our lives.
What does it take to be a Cybersecurity expert?
Cybersecurity specialists are on the front line of cybercrime defense. They help to protect vital computer systems from internal and external threats such as malware, hackers, viruses, spyware, and social engineering.
Someone who works in cybersecurity also needs to be inventive and, exceptionally, fast.
You will need to come up with solutions quickly to stop breaches from becoming massive problems with your company. It’s important to remember that thinking creatively is probably how the hackers got in.
Cybersecurity experts must be twice as creative to realize how they got inside the system and then seal them out.
The demand for professional cybersecurity personnel is on the rise. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the employment of information security analysts is poised to grow by 18% by 2024, which is higher than the average figure for all occupations.
Websites from all over the world support this figure, highlighting the high demand for cybersecurity experts.
How can you become a cybersecurity expert?
The work of a cybersecurity expert deals with the protection of computer systems, networks, and online data against external attacks and infiltration techniques. If you’re considering joining this field, ask yourself if you have the drive and interest that will be needed to sustain a long-term career in cybersecurity.
You must be intimately familiar with the inner workings of computers and digital networks. If you are interested in the science of constructing hacking-free digital systems and keep an eye on the latest developments in the field of cybersecurity, then this is the field for you.
Once you receive your high school diploma, you can join a 4-year bachelor’s degree program in cybersecurity. Each degree program is different. But you can expect to learn about the many ways to commit cybercrime, how to prevent them, how to construct network security systems, forensics, investigation, and information assurance.
Once you have gained your bachelor’s degree, you have the option to either get a job in cybersecurity or continue with your education.
You can study for a Master of Science degree in cybersecurity. There you will learn about network security in greater detail. With more advanced degrees, you will be able to apply for the highest jobs in the field in the role of a consulting expert or head of the cybersecurity department.
What are the required skills?
Not everyone can be successful as a cybersecurity engineer. The field of cybersecurity is extremely fast-paced and dynamic.
There’s no doubt the skill sets required to fill various positions like risk analyst, data analyst, and other IT security jobs are continually evolving.
As technologies advance, the risks of attacks also progress with them – and so are the antidotes to thwart them. This is what forms the criterion for identifying significant cybersecurity professional.
Here are the skills and qualities you will need to be successful in the field:
1. Learn the new trends
Technology never stands still. Every day, innovations in cybercrime force security experts to up their game and come up with new and innovative ways to protect digital data. You need to keep an eye on the latest developments in cybersecurity and incorporate what you learn into your training to protect against the latest threats.
2. Social Skills
A large part of being a cybersecurity expert involves teaching others in your company how to transfer information online in a safe manner.
Even the most qualified heads of companies can be computer illiterate. They can easily not be aware that their passwords need to belong and complicated and changed at regular intervals.
All such details need to be communicated to every person within your company that makes use of the company’s digital network.
3. Creativity and flexible
Hackers are continually coming up with new ways to use malware to break into secure networks. You need to be able to figure out how the malware is being introduced into the system and come up with a solution to halt its progress. You have to be fast to avoid any severe damage to the company’s digital data systems.
4. Networking Skills
Many cybersecurity experts work on a per-project basis, rather than for anyone company for a length of time.
Working in this manner means you have to find new clients continually. To do so, you need to know how to develop a network within your field. Then use that network to get work referrals, find out about new job opportunities, and seek advice from other professionals who do the same work that you do.
What sets apart an educated cybersecurity expert from an amateur?
Everyone has a computer these days, and those who grew up playing with their computers believe they have become experts without studying the subject in college.
This has led to the rise of amateur cybersecurity experts who enter the professional field without a degree.
While this is one way to work in cybersecurity, it is not as effective as getting a Bachelor’s in cybersecurity  before joining the field.
Possessing a degree from an accredited program helps place a stamp of quality on your knowledge. Professionals who have a degree to show to prospective employers can command higher wages at the beginning of their careers.
On the other hand, amateurs have to work long and hard working for peanuts for several years, setting up a portfolio of their work. That’s before they are taken seriously by the more established companies. Getting a degree may require a more monetary investment upfront then going directly into the field, but the investment may pay off later in the form of better job opportunities.
Guaranteed job security
Demand for professionals is high, and getting higher. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 50,731 job openings related to information security in 2012, with 7,130 students completing degree programs in information security that same year. That’s an astounding ratio of 1 graduate for every seven openings!
From encryption to authentication, to infrastructure, to surveillance, career opportunities for cybersecurity grads are exploding at all levels.
The General Accounting Office cited these staggering statistics about the federal government:
- Spent $938 million on cybersecurity in 2000
- Budgeted $13 billion for cybersecurity just 15 years later
Best Colleges for Cybersecurity
A cybersecurity degree can prepare you to become an expert in the prevention, detection, and fight against digital crime.
Because this is still an emerging field, you’ll want to enroll in the best information security major and cybersecurity degree program for you.
One where you’ll learn the “defense-in-depth” approach to comprehensive information and electronic defense. Hence, while choosing a college, take your time and research before you join any programs.
Cybersecurity degree program coursework should include such critical topics and issues as:
- Architecture & Controls
- Business Continuity & Operations
- Disaster Recovery
- Network Security
- Risk Management
- Security Law & Compliance
- Web Application Security
- Bureau of Labor Statistics, Information Security Analysts
- Identity Theft Resource Center
3(ISC) 2, Cybersecurity Workforce Study 2018, [accessed April 16, 2019] https://www.isc2.org/Research/Workforce-Study
- Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA), “State of Cybersecurity 2019”
- Techopedia, “Cybersecurity”